Ominous Start to 2017 (If You Watched on TV)
January 2, 2017

Even if you have one of the more modest cable television packages, you can still get hundreds of channels these days. Because of this fact, it boggles the mind that if you are watching in the Pacific time zone, only one of those channels shows the New Year's Eve ball drop from New York City live. CNN gives us Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, the networks tape delay their countdown shows, and the other news networks are showing some sort of prison documentary.

Watching Griffin make Cooper extremely uncomfortable is more entertaining than the ball drop itself, and to illustrate that, the network didn't even follow the million-dollar crystal all the way down. They cut away to people shouting, an overview of the “million people” (we'll get to that later) crowding Times Square, and the scoreboard counting down to one slower, but more correctly, than the crowd eager to celebrate. If you are back east, you can pick from several channels to find the one you like. Out here, this is it.

Another thing about New Year's on the West Coast. When midnight approaches, the only programming we get is a repeat of New York City. CNN is done, and even Don Lemon is finished drinking. Out here, it's Ryan Seacrest, Carson Daly, or some other show to bring us something that happened live three hours ago. It seems you would have to admit that the large crowd in Times Square taped might be better than say, Fremont Street in Vegas. Force-feeding us old stuff is not good, except in this case, if you happened to be watching ABC.

There have been noteworthy things that have happened live back east that were cut out of a west coast refeed. Sinead O'Connor ripping up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, for example. We only got to read about it the next day, but when Mariah Carey had some sort of a meltdown on New Year's Rockin' Eve, ABC re-aired it three hours later to us folks.

Carey was a disaster. It was clear that she couldn't hear when the music started. She tried to be professional about it at first, having the crowd sing while she tried to gather herself together, but then just kind of stood there and started making excuses. She said they didn't do a sound check, but then went on to say that the song went to number one anyways. We learned a lot about live performances, because when she started her second song, we could hear her voice, but she wasn't singing. She couldn't even hear well enough to lip sync. She told the crowd that (stuff) happens, and then exited the stage.

Now the blame game has begun. Carey's people say her performance was sabotaged, that she was set up to fail. Her earpiece didn't work and they sent her out on stage anyway. Producers say she phoned it in. The melodrama will continue, and although it certainly figures to provide fodder for Carey's new television show, it doesn't seem to be an intentional act.

Carey's people are livid that the debacle was re-fed to the West, but considering it was several minutes long, it's hard to figure what else ABC could do. We got to see what can really happen on live television, even though it came at Carey's expense. Let's face it, she had a bad night. The bad news for her is that tens of millions of people saw it. The good news is that is was the final night of the year. Happy New Year everyone!

More NYE ICYMI: How did John Lennon's Imagine become a New Year's song? Time's square plays Auld Lang Syne, Imagine, New York New York, and Louis Armstrong's It's a Wonderful World every year, with Ray Charles' America the Beautiful in there somewhere. CNN carried the live performance of Imagine while ABC was busy with Carey...Our old friend Ron Flatter (who is from Chico, covered the Kings in Sacramento, moved to Australia for a couple years, and now works in news and sports radio in New York) did the calculations, and concluded there is no way there could have been a million people in Times Square. Flatter tweeted “...Max space up 7th Ave & up Bdwy: about 800K sq ft. At 2 sq ft per person, that's 400K. Max.” In a subsequent tweet, he added that that doesn't count clearing space in sidewalks and intersections. The million may be more like 350,000.

Chicago in San Diego: The San Diego Chargers likely played their final football game in that city on Sunday. They lost to the Kansas City Chiefs and on the post-game show, the radio network played Chicago's If You Leave Me Now underneath the broadcasters while they were doing their wrapup. It seemed like play-by-play man Josh Lewin had a hard time concentrating over the music, but the words really seemed to fit fan sentiment (ooh ooh ooh ooh no baby please don't go). Team ownership has the option to move to Los Angeles next year and ultimately share a stadium with the Rams, and the NFL has given the Chargers a January 15 deadline to make that decision. With voters turning down a ballot measure in November for a hotel tax to fund a new stadium, and no other alternative on the table, ownership really doesn't have much of a choice. Maybe the league will extend the deadline, but that's highly unlikely.

Edwards dies: Not included for most people in what seems to be a long list of celebrities who passed away in 2016 (Prince, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, etc.) is college football coaching legend LaVell Edwards, who died Thursday at the age of 86. Edwards coached at BYU for 29 seasons and won 257 games, including an improbable (and somewhat controversial) national championship in 1984. Edwards was known for a stone, expressionless face on the sidelines, but although I didn't get to know him very well, I did cover him a little bit while I was at KSL radio, and he was nothing but nice to me.

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